A pelican is a bird that holds a special place in the heart of human beings. It evokes good emotions of love and awakens the heart’s desire to pour itself out for others. A Pelican is said to feed its children with its blood in time of famine. Blood is life. When we lose too much blood, life goes out of us. To give one’s blood for another is the ultimate generosity. That is why we honor veterans who fought and died for our country. A Pelican is like that. That is why the bird has been used as a symbol of the Eucharist – of Jesus giving Himself totally for us, shedding His blood that we may live, and giving us Himself as food in the Eucharist.
But the way of the Pelican is the way of all people with a large heart. Before God, these people are disposed to give of themselves – whole and entire. “Take my all, dear Lord”, they pray, as they make a gift of themselves to others in the circumstances in which they discern God’s will for them. The two widows in this weekend’s readings show us that faith is a risk which has to be taken. They gave all they had – meaning all they are, too! One gave to prophet Elijah the only bread left for her and her only son believing in the prophet’s words that the Lord would not let her go hungry (1 Kings, 17:7-16); the other widow threw in the only penny she had in the collection basket without even expecting anything from the Lord (Mk. 12. 41-44). A gesture of total trust in the Lord!
It is interesting that these two people are widows. They symbolize persons who do not have much protection or security. Often those who do not have “lots” of money feel they cannot give because they do not have “enough”; they can only receive from others. This disposition simply shows lack of faith in the Lord and even a willingness to remain in poverty. The important thing is that we can give from what we have. This is what demonstrates that we have an attitude of generosity. This is what God tries to teach us – He gave us HIS ONLY SON, Jesus Christ (John 3.16). We have no excuse not to be generous with what we have and what we are, for generosity frees us from our tendency to self-imprisonment in unhealthy desires and unnecessary needs.
In our materialistic society, we may perceive these two widows as unreasonable because they do not consider saving for tomorrow. How could they do that? Did they think of the bills to pay and the emergencies that would certainly need money? These are realistic questions. That is why what they did is a risk – a risk of faith in the Lord of the universe. Their gesture of total self-giving makes sense only in faith. Faith-filled people are known for doing things that “normal” people see as crazy. Yet, faith always vindicates itself.
From this story of the two widows, Jesus lays out the principle that should guide our life: our lives are never for ourselves but for others. We experience the depth of life the more we give ourselves wholly for others for the sake of God. Generosity is self-expansion and life; self-centeredness is implosion and death. You recall the kind of joy and fullness you experience when you willingly suffer inconveniences for another person or give of the little you have so that the mission of the Church can go on! All this is done for love of God. That joy you feel is the joy of self-transcendence, a participation in the self-gift of Jesus Christ. In doing so, you are aligning yourself to God’s heart; you are taking on the mind of God, and you are becoming fully yourself as a human being. Make an effort to be more generous this week starting with your family. God bless you